By Daryel A. Groom
Ronny was 7 years old when his grandfather Rodolfo passed away. Dr. Ramirez had come to the house while the village of Marcala was just awakening to the warm tropical sun. He said he had a heart attack in his sleep. This sudden death was unexpected since grandpa was healthy despite his age of 81. He recalled the town procession marching to the white village church outside the center of town. His strong uncles and cousins carried the brown pine coffin while Rony held a wooden cross his grandpa had carved from celba which was placed at his burial site.
Rony was closest to his grandpa. He often watched him work tirelessly as a mason building sturdy houses which could withstand the tropical storms which swept the Honduras countryside from time to time. He was a huge man in stature close to 7 feet tall and muscular from years of physical labor and fierce determination. His dark brown eyes were steadfast on any task at hand and Rony remembered his hands were rough and torn from strenuous labor.
He recalled how his grandmother Amimta would prepare beans, rice, chicken, or steak and tortillas for him to bring to grandpa. Monday to Friday he would deliver lunch and often eat some of it on the way. Grandpa never minded when he finally arrived after playing soccer with his friends. Grandpa would still give his grandson a portion of his meal. Afterwards, he would show him how to place each brick in place perfectly with the exact amount of mortar. He demonstrated how to saw wood, detail molding, hammer nails and a myriad of other construction skills he would one day utilize for employment.
Although grandpa Rodolfo had been gone for some- time he always knew he would remain close to him forever. Several years after he had passed; grandma Amimta asked Rony to deliver lunch to his aunt Selena. He always cut through the cemetery because it was a half hour journey opposed to a 2 hour walk around the vast mausoleum. He grabbed the parcel from grandma, steak, black beans, rice, and corn. He was sure Aunt Selena would part with a portion of her lunch due to his cheerful diligence.
He briskly walked the 15- minute hike to the churchyard, as he reached the entrance the fiery August sun hid behind a shadowy cluster of hovering pine trees. The old iron gates were a rusty, forgotten relic of souls’ past. As he entered the opening; he gazed upon two black crows fighting over a meaty, red, earthworm. The larger bird grabbed the worm from the smaller one and flew to perch upon a nearby gravestone to devour his live meal. The gravestone read “ Miguel Rivera Beloved Husband and Grandfather R.I.P. 1911- 1991” Rony thought about his own grandfather as he passed the gravestone; his burial site was towards the middle of the boneyard near a celba pentandra tree. The Reyes family had a plot with room left for his Grandma, Aunt Selena, Uncle Tito. Uncle David, Rony and his three cousins Jesus, Juan, and Anita. He wondered if he had time to stop by and pay his respects to Grandpa and still make his lunch delivery in time to Aunt Selena.
He grabbed at his pockets and found the old silver plated locket watch he had inherited from grandpa. It glittered in the sun like an ancient sundial; antiquated but reliable. It was 11:11 am, he would have hurried. As he walked towards plot 33, he knew he was coming closer to his grandpa’s resting place. He could feel a chill in the air; a wind cut by his neck like a sharp wisp, swift, and hair-raising. He stopped in his tracks where he remembered his grandpa was buried at plot 27, right near a hill which was the pinnacle of the graveyard. He dropped the lunch package right where he stood and trembled in disbelief. There 10 feet from him stood his grandfather in his Sunday best, waving at him from the top of the old hill. Beside him was a deep hole about 6 feet or more with an old rusting shuffle beside it. Grandpa beckoned his grandson to come closer but Rony froze, as if blinded by too much vision at once. His grandpa remained gesturing him to join him, mouth whispering “Venga mi mieto venga.”
He was too scared to remain, so he pounced like a jaguar in flight of a deer. He dashed for the gates, his feet felt like cement blocks and each step felt like his last. It was like running in a dream and never getting anywhere. When he finally reached the gates breathless and screeching in horror; a gang of crows had gathered along the perimeter wall of the cemetery, hawking and squawking at him. He gestured for them to scat, but they continued their peculiar funeral procession.
He arrived at Aunt Selena’s door, his tan shorts cut by the knee braised by a tainted, blue, bruise he caught while scurrying to reach her house. Rony gasped “Abuelo, Abuelo!” ” Grandpa is at the hill! The hill!” She turned to him with a crucifix in hand; “I know he always said you would be the one with the gift to see.” She smiled, kissing the crucifix gently; he saw things too others; He loved you so much he wants you to come, but it is not your time, not your time.
Daryel A. Groom’s previous publications include short stories and poems in The Nassau Community College Literary Magazine, This is Big Paper, Molloy College Literary Magazine Curiouser, Curiouser, and the current publication of The Long Beach Writer’s Circle Group Anthology.